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Hired! The job market and outlook for Conservation jobs

March 27th, 2013

Hired! The job market and outlook for Conservation jobs

 Hannah Piner

Every student has to worry about getting a job upon graduation; this is no different for the conservation student. Finding a job can be difficult and frustrating, no matter the profession, but for a career that only employed 11,900 people in 20101, how should students maximize their chances of getting a job?

Most employers like seeing, both, a knowledge and education in an associated field and real world experience on their potential candidate’s resumes. In conservation this could include: internships at a conservation lab, previous job experience as a museum technician, volunteer work with collections, or experience in a museum or art gallery, as well as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in museum studies, anthropology, history, public history, art, chemistry, or library science. About thirty-three percent of the conservators with jobs have a bachelor’s degree and about thirty nine percent have a master’s degree, while only nine percent have a doctorate degree2. The lack of doctorate degrees in the field could show that most employers see no need for a PhD, when a master’s student can do the same job for less salary.

Median salary for a conservator was $37,120 in 2009, with a range between $23,000 and $68,0003. Most likely federal jobs have better benefits for their employees, while large or famous museums probably pay a higher salary; this is not the average museum though. The majority of accredited museums, in the United States, have a budget between one and 2.9 million dollars annually and are non-profit or privately owned and funded, and have between six and fifteen staff members4. With such small budgets and small staffs, the average museum cannot often afford to hire someone with a PhD, and are probably looking for an employee who can fill many job positions within their museum.

The conservation field is expected to grow 6.7 percent between 2010 and 2020, but, because this is such a small field, this is only 800 jobs in ten years5. Most conservators will have to volunteer or intern before they find jobs and these jobs will likely be in museums, and some will be in colleges and universities as well6.

Considering these statistics and projections, the conservation student should be prepared to move wherever there is a job, they should be prepared to start at a salary of 20 to 30,000 dollars, and should be looking for medium sized museums and libraries, as well as some colleges and universities. The more experience the applicant has, the higher their chances, and building professional relationships with museum personnel and conservators all over the country is a necessity. One way to do this is to join professional groups like the American Institute of Conservators (AIC) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), as well as any local or state run professional groups.

 

[1] “Conservators and Museum Technicians”. <http://www.iseek.org/careers/careerDetail?id=1&oc=100385&title=>. Copyright 2013 iSeek Solutions. Viewed 3/1/2013.

2 Ibid.

3 U.S. News: University Directory. “Museum Technicians and Conservators”. <http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/careers/museum-technicians-and-conservators_11873.aspx#.UTZWKY5WRUQ>. Copy write 2013 U.S.News University Connection. Viewed 3/1/2013.

4American Alliance of Museums. “Statistics”. <http://www.aam-us.org/resources/assessment-programs/accreditation/statistics>. Viewed 3/1/2013.

5 “Conservators and Museum Technicians”.

6 U.S. News: University Directory.

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